Thursday, July 19, 2012

What's old is New

For the last couple of decades, we have rested easily in the knowledge that we had virtually eliminated most serious childhood illnesses.  No longer did we contend with Measles, Mumps or Rubella.  Whooping Cough, Scarlet Fever and even Polio has been relegated to the pages of history.  We rejoiced in our modern medicine, knowing we would never have to watch our children suffer the ravaging effects of these wasting diseases.  And then, just as we were beginning to forget even the names of our old enemies, they began to strike anew.

The CDC has just issued a warning indicating that we may be in for the worst Whooping Cough epidemic since 1959.  Now I know everybody has differing opinions as to the "why" of the recent resurgence of childhood illnesses (most believing that the un-immunizited population is at fault), but I would like to offer another theory.

As our family slogged through the Whooping Cough last fall, I had a lot of time to think about our situation and the possible causes of our predicament.  As I looked for immunization patterns in the people we knew who had the Whooping Cough, I was astonished not to be able to find any.  One family (with quite a number of children) came down with the illness.  Half of their children had been immunized and half of their children hadn't (personal choice).  Interestingly, three of their un-immunized children contracted the Whooping Cough and three of their immunized children also fell ill.  The other three children where not immunized and did not contract the disease.  The mother (who was immunized) had a terrible case (and in fact relapsed) and the father (also immunized) did not contract Whooping Cough.  The immunizations appeared to play little to no part in whether the person came down with Whooping Cough.  Interesting.

Our family was very similar.  Roughly half of us had been immunized and half had not.    One of our immunized people had the worst case of all and two of our un-immunized people had a very mild case.  Again, interesting.  Another thing to note is that we contracted Whooping Cough from some dear friends children, who had, in fact, both been immunized.  They were quite ill for months and one even developed Pneumonia.

As I nursed my family through this horrible illness, I thought a lot about the current resurgence of previously eradicated diseases.  One thing, in particular, struck me that I think is worth consideration.  In the case of Whooping Cough (Pertussis), the disease is caused by a bacteria - Bordetella Pertussis.  We know, from the fact that antibiotics become useless from improper and excess use, that bacteria can overcome our modern interventions, rendering them useless and in turn, the bacteria becomes more resilient.  That being the case, wouldn't it stand to reason that, perhaps, these crafty little bacteria have found a way around our defenses?  Couldn't they have adapted to our immunizations, gotten stronger and redoubled their efforts?  

Obviously I am no medical researcher or great scientific mind.  My theory may be so far off base as to not even be in the ball park, but, to this little country girl it seems to be just plain, old common sense.  

So, what to do.  Being the Chief Medical Officer in our family (also known as Mother) I am educating myself on various childhood diseases, learning to recognize the signs and symptoms of disease, storing equipment and medicines needed for diagnostics and treatment and preparing to care for my family in any number of medical emergencies.  Does that mean that I have all of my bases covered?  No.  I wish.  There are so many uncertainties in life that it is impossible for me to know everything and be prepared for every eventuality.  I do know that dealing with the Whooping Cough made me more aware.  It made me unspeakably thankful that I had put pen to paper and came up with "The Prepared Family Guide to Uncommon Diseases".  It made me want to further educate myself so that I can properly care for my family.  It made me realize that our old enemies haven't really been vanquished, just pushed into hiding, quietly gaining strength.

A few things we learned from our Whooping Cough experience;
  • Early diagnosis is key.  The quicker you get a nose swab (yuck!) and are prescribed antibiotics, the less severe the illness.  The swab is only effective in diagnosing Pertussis in its early stages, when the disease it too far progressed the swab will give a negative test.  Although the disease will still run its course, the coughing will be greatly reduced with antibiotics.
  • Fluids, fluids, fluids.   The mucus buildup with Whooping Cough is horrible.  Constant fluids are essential in thinning the mucus, making it easier to expel.
  • Changing positions (from horizontal to vertical) causes massive coughing.  We found that propping our patients up (almost vertically) while they slept significantly reduced their cough spells.
  • Support your coughs.  Sir Knight had particularly violent coughing spasms - violent to the point of breaking two ribs.  We came to know that placing a pillow around the front of Sir Knight's chest and having him wrap his arms around it while coughing, supporting his diaphragm, greatly reduced the rib pain and may very well have kept him from breaking ribs had we begun the support earlier.
  • Pneumonia is a very common complication of Whooping Cough.  Regularly taking onion syrup and drinking lots of water (reducing mucus) will help tremendously.
  • Cold air triggers coughing spasms.  Months after our bought with Whooping Cough a blast of cold air would double us over with coughing fits.
  • Take it easy during recovery.  After such a long illness, you will be winded and exhausted - expect this and prepare for a long recovery.
Being forewarned is being forearmed.  Educate yourself.  Prepared.  Take the precautions that you deem necessary.  Just don't be caught unawares.  What was old seems to be new again.


  1. Are the onion syrup and poultice recipes in
    your book?

  2. Dear Stuck;
    Unfortunately, no. We found these little tidbits after the book was published. They will be in an upcoming book, however.

  3. Thank you, sorry to be a pest. Does your current book have other recipes and remedies? When will the new book be out. Like you, as mom, I am the family medic, but I need much more info. My training as an EMT is about 30 yrs ago and out of date. I'm trying to re-educate myself on the run.

  4. Dear Stuck;
    The next one (after the cook book) will be called "Kitchen Medicine". Yes, it has lots of recipes and remedies - right out of your kitchen cupboard. I plan on releasing it next spring - although I am trying to get things done sooner! I understand trying to educate yourself on the run!

  5. Ma'am:
    Just my experience. They gave my 13 month old a whooping cough immunization. Within 2 weeks he had it and gave it to his 1 month old brother. Because it kills 2% of children, my wife and I rocked the little guys all night long for about 7 weeks. They'd cough until they threw up on us. Both survived and so did my wife and I. I'm certain in my gut the shot caused it. God Bless, John

  6. We had a similar experience. Half of us were immunized for whooping cough, half weren't. I don't have a whole lot of stock in that vaccine anymore (if I ever did), and never was fond of the MMR shot since I got the measles from that one back in the day.

    Luckily I'd known what to keep an eye out for (since you were diagnosed not long before we got it!) and the friend that exposed us had finally been diagnosed (after 3-4 doctors misdiagnosed it as a cold, time and time again!). Interestingly enough, my youngest (just shy of 2yo at the time), while he started coughing, was among the mild cases (along with my 6yo who had zero signs or symptoms). I definitely attribute it to me still nursing him, otherwise I about guarantee he would've had a horrible case like my 4yo who had weaned almost a year before. My poor 4yo needed two rounds of antibiotics to finally clear it up.

  7. I'm a bio major in college, and what you said goes along with everything we've been taught. The bacteria most definitely could be mutating enough so that our antibiotics have little to no effect on them.

  8. These have been been my thoughts as well ever since the Pertussis outbreaks started. It seems as though each year they are getting more and more widespread and as you say, there is no apparent connection to whether or not the patient has been immunized.
    One thing that has always been a pet peeve of mine, and became stronger once I had children, was going to the doctor's office for "routine well check-ups". You get there, and you and your family, who are not ill, must sit in the same waiting room, breathing the same air, as the ill people. What a recipe for the spread of infectious diseases, and this at the place that is supposed to help keep us "healthy". I have long felt that there should be separate waiting rooms and exam rooms for the ill patients and the healthy patients. They should also have their own ventilation systems so that the bad air is not recirculated. This is just common sense which is obviously not so common any more.
    I look forward to your kitchen remedy book to go along with the Uncommon Diseases book. I also have multiple books on herbal medicines and the plants and how to prepare them. I have so much to learn. If only we had not turned our backs on what God gave us to treat our ills with and become so reliant on "modern medicine", I believe we would be much better off.

  9. Diseases mutate-what's old changes. There have been a few cases of whooping cough here. It's a disease I'd heard of people getting, but always in the past-1930s or '40s. I had a MRSA infection-starts out small(looked like a tiny mosquito bite, but burned. I thought a spider got me)and quickly gets bigger and gross. Next morning, it was quarter sized, with a paper back book sized discolored area around it. Took about two months to get over the disease, and another month to get over the cure(strong antibiotics kill bad bugs, but also take out the good ones that live inside you). Permanent scarring(I call it the Nebari Patch-at least it's on my leg and not visible). If you ever get a tiny sore that burns out of proportion to its size, go right then and get it taken care of. Don't wait 'til morning.Go! This is not something that can be dealt with at home,and you may be spending hospital time if you wait(they wanted me to, but I talked them out of it-more cooties in the hospital than there is at home).

  10. Hello Enola!
    Very interesting hypothesis, which I personally believe is accurate.

    I also believe there could be another factor which I have not seen discussed. But if my memory serves me correctly I believe you did blog on this. Sick rooms. Or keeping those who are sick away from those who are not.

    In my area (Pacific Northwest) we have had not only the Whooping Cough but Chicken Pox. Both running wild through our general area. One dear family in our church told me this:
    "Those of our children (12 in all) who had the worst cases of chicken pox were the ones who slept in the rooms of those who contracted the disease first. They were repeatedly exposed to the virus for weeks before coming down with it themselves."

    Our family's experience:
    Chicken Pox - the inoculated child contracted the chicken pox 12 years after his immunization, but the two adults who had this as children did not get anything.
    Whooping Cough - no one in our family contracted this. 1 inoculated and 2 not. But we also chose to limit out contact at church when the outbreak first began. It ran wild through the rest of those 'regularly attending' our church.
    Blessings, ~Aunt Mae

  11. I have your book but some of the medications you suggest to have on hand how did you get them?

    1. Dear Prepared Teacher;

      Please email me directly and I will answer your questions to the best of my ability.


  12. What about the use of colloidal silver?

  13. I've been self-educating a lot lately w/ regard to health issues, and I would recommend two books by Dr. Campbell-McBride: Gut and Psychology Syndrome and Put Your Heart in Your Mouth. I'm also learning a lot from the Weston A. Price Foundation's quarterly journal entitled Wise Traditions. (The most recent edition has an article about vaccines.)

    Racine County, WI